Tag Archives: Recovery

Datrium opens cloud DR service to all VMware users

Datrium plans to open its new cloud disaster recovery as a service to any VMware vSphere users in 2020, even if they’re not customers of Datrium’s DVX infrastructure software.

Datrium released disaster recovery as a service with VMware Cloud on AWS in September for DVX customers as an alternative to potentially costly professional services or a secondary physical site. DRaaS enables DVX users to spin up protected virtual machines (VMs) on demand in VMware Cloud on AWS in the event of a disaster. Datrium takes care of all of the ordering, billing and support for the cloud DR.

In the first quarter, Datrium plans to add a new Datrium DRaaS Connect for VMware users who deploy vSphere infrastructure on premises and do not use Datrium storage. Datrium DraaS Connect software would deduplicate, compress and encrypt vSphere snapshots and replicate them to Amazon S3 object storage for cloud DR. Users could set backup policies and categorize VMs into protection groups, setting different service-level agreements for each one, Datrium CTO Sazzala Reddy said.

A second Datrium DRaaS Connect offering will enable VMware Cloud users to automatically fail over workloads from one AWS Availability Zone (AZ) to another if an Amazon AZ goes down. Datrium stores deduplicated vSphere snapshots on Amazon S3, and the snapshots replicated to three AZs by default, Datrium chief product officer Brian Biles said.

Speedy cloud DR

Datrium claims system recovery can happen on VMware Cloud within minutes from the snapshots stored in Amazon S3, because it requires no conversion from a different virtual machine or cloud format. Unlike some backup products, Datrium does not convert VMs from VMware’s format to Amazon’s format and can boot VMs directly from the Amazon data store.

“The challenge with a backup-only product is that it takes days if you want to rehydrate the data and copy the data into a primary storage system,” Reddy said.

Although the “instant RTO” that Datrium claims to provide may not be important to all VMware users, reducing recovery time is generally a high priority, especially to combat ransomware attacks. Datrium commissioned a third party to conduct a survey of 395 IT professionals, and about half said they experienced a DR event in the last 24 months. Ransomware was the leading cause, hitting 36% of those who reported a DR event, followed by power outages (26%).

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) information systems department spent a weekend recovering from a zero-day malware exploit that hit nearly three years ago on a Thursday afternoon. The malware came in through a contractor’s VPN connection and took out more than 85 servers, according to Michael Beerer, a senior section manager for online system and network administration of OCTA’s information systems department.

Beerer said the information systems team restored critical applications by Friday evening and the rest by Sunday afternoon. But OCTA now wants to recover more quickly if a disaster should happen again, he said.

OCTA is now building out a new data center with Datrium DVX storage for its VMware VMs and possibly Red Hat KVM in the future. Beerer said DVX provides an edge in performance and cost over alternatives he considered. Because DVX disaggregates storage and compute nodes, OCTA can increase storage capacity without having to also add compute resources, he said.

Datrium cloud DR advantages

Beerer said the addition of Datrium DRaaS would make sense because OCTA can manage it from the same DVX interface. Datrium’s deduplication, compression and transmission of only changed data blocks would also eliminate the need for a pricy “big, fat pipe” and reduce cloud storage requirements and costs over other options, he said. Plus, Datrium facilitates application consistency by grouping applications into one service and taking backups at similar times before moving data to the cloud, Beerer said.

Datrium’s “Instant RTO” is not critical for OCTA. Beerer said anything that can speed the recovery process is interesting, but users also need to weigh that benefit against any potential additional costs for storage and bandwidth.

“There are customers where a second or two of downtime can mean thousands of dollars. We’re not in that situation. We’re not a financial company,” Beerer said. He noted that OCTA would need to get critical servers up and running in less than 24 hours.

Reddy said Datrium offers two cost models: a low-cost option with a 60-minute window and a “slightly more expensive” option in which at least a few VMware servers are always on standby.

Pricing for Datrium DRaaS starts at $23,000 per year, with support for 100 hours of VMware Cloud on-demand hosts for testing, 5 TB of S3 capacity for deduplicated and encrypted snapshots, and up to 1 TB per year of cloud egress. Pricing was unavailable for the upcoming DRaaS Connect options.

Other cloud DR options

Jeff Kato, a senior storage analyst at Taneja Group, said the new Datrium options would open up to all VMware customers a low-cost DRaaS offering that requires no capital expense. He said most vendors that offer DR from their on-premises systems to the cloud force customers to buy their primary storage.

George Crump, president and founder of Storage Switzerland, said data protection vendors such as Commvault, Druva, Veeam, Veritas and Zerto also can do some form of recovery in the cloud, but it’s “not as seamless as you might want it to be.”

“Datrium has gone so far as to converge primary storage with data protection and backup software,” Crump said. “They have a very good automation engine that allows customers to essentially draw their disaster recovery plan. They use VMware Cloud on Amazon, so the customer doesn’t have to go through any conversion process. And they’ve solved the riddle of: ‘How do you store data in S3 but recover on high-performance storage?’ “

Scott Sinclair, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said using cloud resources for backup and DR often means either expensive, high-performance storage or lower cost S3 storage that requires a time-consuming migration to get data out of it.

“The Datrium architecture is really interesting because of how they’re able to essentially still let you use the lower cost tier but make the storage seem very high performance once you start populating it,” Sinclair said.

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Recovering from ransomware soars to the top of DR concerns

The rise of ransomware has had a significant effect on modern disaster recovery, shaping the way we protect data and plan a recovery. It does not bring the same physical destruction of a natural disaster, but the effects within an organization — and on its reputation — can be lasting.

It’s no wonder that recovering from ransomware has become such a priority in recent years.

It’s hard to imagine a time when ransomware wasn’t a threat, but while cyberattacks date back as far as the late 1980s, ransomware in particular has had a relatively recent rise in prominence. Ransomware is a type of malware attack that can be carried out in a number of ways, but generally the “ransom” part of the name comes from one of the ways attackers hope to profit from it. The victim’s data is locked, often behind encryption, and held for ransom until the attacker is paid. Assuming the attacker is telling the truth, the data will be decrypted and returned. Again, this assumes that the anonymous person or group that just stole your data is being honest.

“Just pay the ransom” is rarely the first piece of advice an expert will offer. Not only do you not know if payment will actually result in your computer being unlocked, but developments in backup and recovery have made recovering from ransomware without paying the attacker possible. While this method of cyberattack seems specially designed to make victims panic and pay up, doing so does not guarantee you’ll get your data back or won’t be asked for more money.

Disaster recovery has changed significantly in the 20 years TechTarget has been covering technology news, but the rapid rise of ransomware to the top of the potential disaster pyramid is one of the more remarkable changes to occur. According to a U.S. government report, by 2016 4,000 ransomware attacks were occurring daily. This was a 300% increase over the previous year. Ransomware recovery has changed the disaster recovery model, and it won’t be going away any time soon. In this brief retrospective, take a look back at the major attacks that made headlines, evolving advice and warnings regarding ransomware, and how organizations are fighting back.

In the news

The appropriately named WannaCry ransomware attack began spreading in May 2017, using an exploit leaked from the National Security Agency targeting Windows computers. WannaCry is a worm, which means that it can spread without participation from the victims, unlike phishing attacks, which require action from the recipient to spread widely.

Ransomware recovery has changed the disaster recovery model, and it won’t be going away any time soon.

How big was the WannaCry attack? Affecting computers in as many as 150 countries, WannaCry is estimated to have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. According to cyber risk modeling company Cyence, the total costs associated with the attack could be as high as $4 billion.

Rather than the price of the ransom itself, the biggest issue companies face is the cost of being down. Because so many organizations were infected with the WannaCry virus, news spread that those who paid the ransom were never given the decryption key, so most victims did not pay. However, many took a financial hit from the downtime the attack caused. Another major attack in 2017, NotPetya, cost Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk hundreds of millions of dollars. And that’s just one victim.

In 2018, the city of Atlanta’s recovery from ransomware ended up costing more than $5 million, and shut down several city departments for five days. In the Matanuska-Susitna borough of Alaska in 2018, 120 of 150 servers were affected by ransomware, and the government workers resorted to using typewriters to stay operational. Whether it is on a global or local scale, the consequences of ransomware are clear.

Ransomware attacks
Ransomware attacks had a meteoric rise in 2016.

Taking center stage

Looking back, the massive increase in ransomware attacks between 2015 and 2016 signaled when ransomware really began to take its place at the head of the data threat pack. Experts not only began emphasizing the importance of backup and data protection against attacks, but planning for future potential recoveries. Depending on your DR strategy, recovering from ransomware could fit into your current plan, or you might have to start considering an overhaul.

By 2017, the ransomware threat was impossible to ignore. According to a 2018 Verizon Data Breach Report, 39% of malware attacks carried out in 2017 were ransomware, and ransomware had soared from being the fifth most common type of malware to number one.

Verizon malware report
According to the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, ransomware was the most prevalent type of malware attack in 2017.

Ransomware was not only becoming more prominent, but more sophisticated as well. Best practices for DR highlighted preparation for ransomware, and an emphasis on IT resiliency entered backup and recovery discussions. Protecting against ransomware became less about wondering what would happen if your organization was attacked, and more about what you would do when your organization was attacked. Ransomware recovery planning wasn’t just a good idea, it was a priority.

As a result of the recent epidemic, more organizations appear to be considering disaster recovery planning in general. As unthinkable as it may seem, many organizations have been reluctant to invest in disaster recovery, viewing it as something they might need eventually. This mindset is dangerous, and results in many companies not having a recovery plan in place until it’s too late.

Bouncing back

While ransomware attacks may feel like an inevitability — which is how companies should prepare — that doesn’t mean the end is nigh. Recovering from ransomware is possible, and with the right amount of preparation and help, it can be done.

The modern backup market is evolving in such a way that downtime is considered practically unacceptable, which bodes well for ransomware recovery. Having frequent backups available is a major element of recovering, and taking advantage of vendor offerings can give you a boost when it comes to frequent, secure backups.

Vendors such as Reduxio, Nasuni and Carbonite have developed tools aimed at ransomware recovery, and can have you back up and running without significant data loss within hours. Whether the trick is backdating, snapshots, cloud-based backup and recovery, or server-level restores, numerous tools out there can help with recovery efforts. Other vendors working in this space include Acronis, Asigra, Barracuda, Commvault, Datto, Infrascale, Quorum, Unitrends and Zerto.

Along with a wider array of tech options, more information about ransomware is available than in the past. This is particularly helpful with ransomware attacks, because the attacks in part rely on the victims unwittingly participating. Whether you’re looking for tips on protecting against attacks or recovering after the fact, a wealth of information is available.

The widespread nature of ransomware is alarming, but also provides first-hand accounts of what happened and what was done to recover after the attack. You may not know when ransomware is going to strike, but recovery is no longer a mystery.

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Gen 8 Unitrends appliances span SMB to enterprise

Unitrends upgraded and expanded its flagship Recovery Series data protection appliances, increasing disk density and adding options to help support customers ranging from SMBs to enterprises.

The new Gen 8 Unitrends appliances run Unitrends Backup version 10.2, the company’s latest backup software. The appliances also have a “self-healing storage” feature, which uses cloud-based analytics to monitor and automatically fix hardware anomalies before they turn into full-blown failures. If necessary, the appliance will notify the customer and automatically open a support ticket.

Unitrends’ new line of backup appliances features a wider range of models than the previous Recovery Series generation launched in October 2016. The Gen 8 platform includes 15 models, ranging from 2 TB to 120 TB usable capacity, although Unitrends dropped its 180 TB model in Gen 8. Gen 8 Unitrends appliances have added 12 TB capacity drives.

The new models include six 1U appliances for SMB and remote offices, two 1U and three 2U midsize appliances, and four 2U enterprise systems.

Joe Noonan, vice president of product management and marketing at Unitrends, explained that the previous appliance storage sizes weren’t fitting all the needs of the broad market Unitrends plays in.

By having such a broad market to go after, we needed to make it as easy as possible to buy and fit the budget needs of our end users.
Joe Noonanvice president of product management and marketing, Unitrends

“Unitrends does play in the enterprise, we play in the midmarket, and we even have some play in the SMB space,” Noonan said. “By having such a broad market to go after, we needed to make it as easy as possible to buy and fit the budget needs of our end users.”

Pricing for the new Unitrends appliances ranges from $2,749 for the 2 TB 8002 model to $97,999 for the 120 TB 8120S with Enterprise Plus software. Noonan said the price per useable TB had gone up 10% over the previous models. However, he said greater choice can reduce the cost for some midrange customers “because we filled in those gaps so that there was a better model to meet their needs and they didn’t have to buy something too big.”

Unitrends appliance
Latest Unitrends Recovery Series appliances include 12 TB drives for greater density.

Unitrends recently merged with Kaseya, but Noonan pointed out that Unitrends remains independent. “We maintained our management structure, we maintained our CEO; our channel remains the same,” he said.

Unitrends sells backup software separately or integrated on appliances. Its product portfolio also includes VMware Backup Essentials virtual backup appliances and Boomerang for VMware software that replicates to public clouds for disaster recovery.

With pieces on so many playing fields, Unitrends runs into a lot of competition. Noonan sees Barracuda as the biggest backup competitor for Unitrends appliances, but also lists Data Domain, Rubrik and Veeam as hardware or software competitors. He said Unitrends tries to stand out by offering a complete on-premises-to-cloud package. “That combination, being able to fit a very well-priced solution that is very low-maintenance because it’s a full box, you’re not stitching that together yourself, and then offering a wide array of disaster recovery options; we’re able to constantly fill gaps as you go along on that disaster recovery story all the way through to the cloud.”

Iron Mountain data recovery adds ransomware protection

Iron Mountain data recovery wants to perform “CPR” on organizations that get hit with ransomware.

The Iron Cloud Critical Protection and Recovery (CPR), set to launch this month, isolates data, disconnecting it from a network. It provides a “cleanroom” to recover data, in the event of an attack, and ensures that ransomware is out of the system.

“Every business is really data-driven today,” said Pete Gerr, senior product manager at Iron Mountain, which is based in Boston. “Data is their most valuable asset.”

Legacy backup and disaster recovery “really weren’t built for the modern threat environment,” and isolated recovery offers the best protection against ransomware, Gerr said.

Ransomware continues to get smarter and remains a prevalent method of cyberattack. Phil Goodwin, research director of storage systems and software at IDC, said the majority of risks for organizations’ data loss involve malware and ransomware. “It’s not a matter of if they’re going to get hit, it’s a matter of when,” Goodwin said.

That’s caused many organizations to proactively tackle the problem with ransomware-specific products

“It’s moved from a backroom discussion to the boardroom,” Gerr said.

Iron Mountain data recovery gets ‘clean’

Iron Cloud CPR features Iron Mountain’s Virtual Cleanroom, a dedicated computing environment hosted within Iron Cloud data centers that provides an air gap. The cleanroom serves as an offline environment where customers can recover backups stored within the secure CPR vault. Then customers can use data forensic utilities or a designated security provider to audit and validate that restored data sets are free from viruses and remediate them if necessary.

It’s moved from a backroom discussion to the boardroom.
Pete Gerrsenior product manager, Iron Mountain

Customers then use Iron Mountain data recovery to restore selected sets back to their production environment or another site.

“The last thing we want to do is recover a backup set … that reinfects your environment,” Gerr said.

The air gap, which ensures that ransomware does not touch a given data set, can also be found in such media as tape storage that is disconnected from the network.

Goodwin cautioned that the CPR product should complement an organization’s backup and recovery platform, not replace it.

“It will fit well with what the customer has,” he said.

Iron Cloud CPR also includes a managed service for organizations using Dell EMC’s Cyber Recovery for ransomware recovery. Hosted in Iron Mountain’s data centers, Iron Cloud CPR for Dell EMC Cyber Recovery on Data Domain enables customers to isolate critical data off site for protection against attacks, using a cloud-based monthly subscription model.

CPR is part of the Iron Cloud data management portfolio, which was built using Virtustream’s xStream Cloud Management Platform. The portfolio also includes backup, archive and disaster recovery services.

Both Iron Cloud CPR offerings are fully managed services and work without any other products, Gerr said. They will be available as part of Dell EMC and Virtustream’s data protection portfolios.

Iron Mountain, which claims more than 230,000 customers across its entire product line, said Iron Cloud CPR is expected to be generally available by the end of June. Several customers are working with the Iron Mountain data recovery product as early adopters.

A data replication strategy for all your disaster recovery needs

Meeting an organization’s disaster recovery challenges requires addressing problems from several angles based on specific recovery point and recovery time objectives. Today’s tight RTO and RPO expectations mean almost no data gets lost and no downtime.

To meet those expectations, businesses must move beyond backup and consider a data replication strategy. Modern replication products offer more than just a rapid disaster recovery copy of data, though. They can help with cloud migration, using the cloud as a DR site and even solving copy data challenges.

Replication software comes in two forms. One is integrated into a storage system, and the other is bought separately. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

An integrated data replication strategy

The integrated form of replication has a few advantages. It’s often bundled at no charge or is relatively inexpensive. Of course, nothing in life is really free. The customer pays extra for the storage hardware in order to get the “free” software. In addition, at-scale, storage-based replication is relatively easy to manage. Most storage system replication works at a volume level, so one job replicates the entire volume, even if there are a thousand virtual machines on it. And finally, storage system-based replication is often backup-controlled, meaning the replication job can be integrated and managed by backup software.

There are, however, problems with a storage system-based data replication strategy. First, it’s specific to that storage system. Consequently, since most data centers use multiple storage systems from different vendors, they must also manage multiple replication products. Second, the advantage of replicating entire volumes can be a disadvantage, because some data centers may not want to replicate every application on a volume. Third, most storage system replication inadequately supports the cloud.

Stand-alone replication

IT typically installs stand-alone replication software on each host it’s protecting or implements it into the cluster in a hypervisor environment. Flexibility is among software-based replication’s advantages. The same software can replicate from any hardware platform to any other hardware platform, letting IT mix and match source and target storage devices. The second advantage is that software-based replication can be more granular about what’s replicated and how frequently replication occurs. And the third advantage is that most software-based replication offers excellent cloud support.

While backup software has improved significantly, tight RPOs and RTOs mean most organizations will need replication as well.

At a minimum, the cloud is used as a DR target for data, but it’s also used as an entire disaster recovery site, not just a copy. This means there can be instantiate virtual machines, using cloud compute in addition to cloud storage. Some approaches go further with cloud support, allowing replication across multiple clouds or from the cloud back to the original data center.

The primary downside of a stand-alone data replication strategy is it must be purchased, because it isn’t bundled with storage hardware. Its granularity also means dozens, if not hundreds of jobs, must be managed, although several stand-alone data replication products have added the ability to group jobs by type. Finally, there isn’t wide support from backup software vendors for these products, so any integration is a manual process, requiring custom scripts.

Modern replication features

Modern replication software should support the cloud and support it well. This requirement draws a line of suspicion around storage systems with built-in replication, because cloud support is generally so weak. Replication software should have the ability to replicate data to any cloud and use that cloud to keep a DR copy of that data. It should also let IT start up application instances in the cloud, potentially completely replacing an organization’s DR site. Last, the software should support multi-cloud replication to ensure both on-premises and cloud-based applications are protected.

Another feature to look for in modern replication is integration into data protection software. This capability can take two forms: The software can manage the replication process on the storage system, or the data protection software could provide replication. Several leading data protection products can manage snapshots and replication functions on other vendors’ storage systems. Doing so eliminates some of the concern around running several different storage system replication products.

Data protection software that integrates replication can either be traditional backup software with an added replication function or traditional replication software with a file history capability, potentially eliminating the need for backup software. It’s important for IT to make sure the capabilities of any combined product meets all backup and replication needs.

How to make the replication decision

The increased expectation of rapid recovery with almost no data loss is something everyone in IT will have to address. While backup software has improved significantly, tight RPOs and RTOs mean most organizations will need replication as well. The pros and cons of both an integrated and stand-alone data replication strategy hinge on the environment in which they’re deployed.

Each IT shop must decide which type of replication best meets its current needs. At the same time, IT planners must figure out how that new data replication product will integrate with existing storage hardware and future initiatives like the cloud.

One-click replication for Azure Virtual Machines with Azure Site Recovery

We are happy to announce that Azure Site Recovery (ASR) is now built into the virtual machine experience so that you can setup replication in one click for your Azure virtual machines. Combined with ASR’s one-click failover capabilities, its simpler than ever before to setup replication and test a disaster recovery scenario.

Using the one-click replication feature, now in public preview, is very simple. Just browse to your VM, select Disaster recovery, select the target region of your choice, review the settings and click Enable replication. That’s it – disaster recovery for your VM is configured. The target resource group, availability set, virtual network and storage accounts are auto-created based on your source VM configuration. You also have the flexibility to pick custom target settings. You can refer to the animation below for the flow.

vm-dr

If you have applications running on Azure IaaS virtual machines, your applications still have to meet compliance requirements. While the Azure platform already has built-in protection for localized hardware failures, you still need to safeguard your applications from major incidents. This includes catastrophic events such as hurricanes and earthquakes, or software glitches causing application downtime. Using Azure Site Recovery, you can have peace of mind knowing your business-critical applications running on Azure VMs are covered and without the expense of secondary infrastructure. Disaster recovery between Azure regions is available in all Azure regions where ASR is available. Get started with Azure Site Recovery today.

Related links and additional content

Zerto replication upgrade features faster AWS recovery

Zerto added faster recovery in Amazon Web Services in the latest version of its software as part of its plan for tighter integration with the market-leading public cloud.

With Zerto Virtual Replication 5.5, the DR software vendor promises its recovery in Amazon Web Services (AWS) will be three to five times faster than before. Recovery will typically take around 15 minutes, said Rob Strechay, senior vice president of product at Boston-based Zerto.

“It makes Amazon a much more viable recovery place,” Strechay said.

Strechay said Zerto uses its own intellectual property to improve recovery time objectives with AWS. Previous versions of Zerto Virtual Replication used official AWS APIs, which led to higher recovery time objectives.

Rob Strechay, Zerto senior vice president of productRob Strechay

Zerto has a goal of featuring replication out of AWS by next year. The vendor offers that failback capability out of Microsoft Azure in Zerto Virtual Replication 5.5, as previewed at ZertoCON in May.

Customers can fail back from Azure to another cloud target for data protection in a hybrid cloud. Since Zerto replication to Azure launched in November 2016, the vendor has received requests for the failback capability, which it now offers in partnership with Microsoft, Strechay said.

The business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) vendor also expanded support to AWS regions in Canada, Ohio, London and Mumbai, India.

Manufacturer scores with Zerto BCDR

It makes Amazon a much more viable recovery place.
Rob StrechayZerto’s senior vice president of product, on Zerto Virtual Replication 5.5

Logo Brands, a manufacturer of licensed sports goods in Franklin, Tenn., has used Zerto Virtual Replication for AWS for approximately two years after switching from Veeam Software. IT manager Tim Tweten said although he was happy with Veeam, Logo Brands switched because Zerto offered more business continuity in addition to disaster recovery.

Tweten said he likes how easy it is to fail over to AWS and, if necessary, leave a server running there. Though the company has not needed to recover any data yet, it has performed successful failover testing. Tweten said failback from AWS would be helpful.

The manufacturer sells items with team logos — such as chairs, tables and bags — for about 600 teams, including professional baseball, basketball, football and hockey clubs. It protects up to 7 TB through the Zerto replication product.

“Of all the software products we use, it’s probably easiest to manage [and] the easiest to trust that it’s working,” Tweten said of Virtual Replication. “It took a burden off of our backs.”

Zerto upgrades upgrade system, adds support

The Zerto replication upgrade became generally available Tuesday. Zerto claims about 5,000 customers.

The vendor has enhanced the upgrade process, making it more automatic and less error-prone, Strechay said. There is one upgrade process for all Zerto Virtual Replication components.

The process is not quite at the “push-button” level, but that’s a goal, Strechay said.

Other updates include:

  • Zerto Analytics, which provides real-time and historical information on the status of multisite, multicloud environments;
  • The Zerto Mobile Widget, which enables access to an environment’s health statistics without opening the full application; and
  • Support for vCenter 6.5, Hyper-V 2016 and SCVMM 2016.

Strechay said Zerto’s biggest advantage over legacy DR is its embrace of the cloud.

The Enterprise Cloud Edition of Zerto Virtual Replication 5.5 is priced at $985 per virtual machine.

Zerto has two software releases planned for 2018. Strechay said the vendor will continue to improve the simplicity of Zerto replication and focus on IT resiliency versus disaster recovery capabilities.

Reduce downtime with Azure Site Recovery service

The Azure Site Recovery service uses Microsoft’s cloud platform to prevent a halt in operations when issues arise. Azure Site Recovery moves workloads to and from different data centers — as well as both public and private clouds — to keep key services online and available.

What is Azure Site Recovery?

The Azure Site Recovery service has two elements:

  • The software and connections move VMs and services between two private data centers — either owned or rented by your organization — including Hyper-V and VMware VMs.
  • The Azure public cloud service acts as a data center stand-in and provides hot site disaster recovery capabilities. The Azure Site Recovery service also supports the hypervisors on Hyper-V and VMware vSphere. Azure Site Recovery does not work with the Xen hypervisor.

New Azure portal offers advanced management

At one time, administrators needed PowerShell to set up Azure Site Recovery  to use Azure Resource Manager style deployments. IT shops can now use the new Azure portal to set up a new Azure Site Recovery environment, including a recovery vault.

This update enables IT to specify different VM sizes within the same account and set up fine-grained access to each resource based on user roles. Only the new portal supports fresh deployments, but it also can manage and support any existing deployments that began via the “classic” portal.

How to set up Azure Site Recovery

In addition to an Azure subscription, the organization needs an Azure storage account that holds data replicated from on-premises servers.

Log into the new portal to create a Recovery Services vault inside the storage account. Select New > More Services > Monitoring + Management > Backup and Site Recovery (OMS) to create VMs with replicated data; these failed-over Azure VMs also need access to an Azure network.

VMware shops will need a local VM to run the configuration server role that coordinates the data and communication with Azure and also handles the data replication processes. This VM is the process server and functions as a replication gateway — it caches, compresses and encrypts replication data, then sends it to Azure. The process server discovers other VMs and adds them to a replication configuration. The configuration server also acts as the master target server, which handles the replication after a disaster concludes and roles shift from Azure back to the on-premises locations.

The Azure Site Recovery service also supports the hypervisors on Hyper-V and VMware vSphere. Azure Site Recovery does not work with the Xen hypervisor.

Windows and Hyper-V shops need either System Center Virtual Machine Manager in the on-premises environment to manage the VMs or the Site Recovery Provider that communicates with the service over the internet. They also must install the Recovery Services agent on non-Virtual Machine Manager hosts to manage data replication.

How does it work?

From there, the Azure Site Recovery service does most of the grunt work. It manages replication based on pre-programmed cycles of 1 minute, 2 minutes, 15 minutes and so on. After the initial seeding, Azure Site Recovery performs delta replication to save bandwidth. You can set up “exclude disks” to avoid replication of temporary files and page files.

Remember to set up a recovery plan that instructs the services where VMs go, on what schedule and in what order; this creates a recipe to follow if a disaster or business interruption occurs. You can then trigger a failback once the interruption concludes and return services to their normal operation and location.

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